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Americans Top Podiums In Swimming, Gymnastics

NPR's Frank Langfitt reports on the gymnastics competition on 'Morning Edition'

Nastia Liukin of the United States competes on the way to a gold medal in the women's individual all-around gymnastics final at the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Julian Finney
Getty Images
Nastia Liukin of the United States competes on the way to a gold medal in the women's individual all-around gymnastics final at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

In the XXIX Summer Olympiad gold medal harvest, Michael Phelps of the United States continued to reap. And Americans Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson dominated the women's individual all-around gymnastics competition.

On Day 7, the superlative Phelps won his sixth gold medal of the Beijing games in the 200-meter individual medley. He aims to win two more, topping Mark Spitz's record set in 1972. All in all, Phelps has a dozen gold medals — more than anyone else in modern Olympic history — from the games in Beijing and in Athens four years ago.


His celebration after his latest victory was subdued. "The next two races are pretty important," Phelps told The Associated Press. "I have to conserve as much physical and emotional energy as I can." He also swam in the semifinals of the 100-meter butterfly, placing second. He hopes to win gold medal No. 7 in the butterfly Saturday and No. 8 in the 400 medley relay Sunday.

In China, Phelps is being called "the American superfish."

In the all-around gymnastics competition Friday, Liukin upset her teammate and reigning world champion, Johnson, by a hair to win gold. Liukin scored 63.325 points, only six-tenths of a point in front of Johnson, who took the silver medal. The bronze went to Yang Yilin of China.

"I don't think it's really set in," Liukin told the AP. "But I feel like this journey has been so long."

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Phelps' teammate Ryan Lochte finished third in the 200 medley. He fared much better in the 200-meter backstroke, however, winning an individual gold medal and setting a world record of 1:53.94.

In women's swimming, Rebecca Soni of the U.S. also won the gold and set a world record in her 200-meter breaststroke race. Leisel Jones of Australia won the silver. Norwegian Sara Nordenstam won the bronze.

Also on Day 7, Americans stumbled in tennis and baseball. James Blake of the United States, fresh off his upset victory of superstar Roger Federer of Switzerland, lost to Fernando Gonzalez of Chile in three sets. Blake blew three match points in the defeat. And Cuba beat the United States, 5-4, in baseball. The game went 11 innings. Cuba is now 3-0; the U.S. is 1-2.

The U.S. women's softball team kept its winning streak alive by beating Japan 7-0 and Canada 8-1. In women's water polo, the United States defeated Russia 12-7, and Italy beat China 10-9. Hungary and Australia also won.

In women's basketball, China mauled Mali, 69-48; Russia ran past Brazil, 74-64; Latvia outlasted Australia, 96-73, and the Czech Republic routed New Zealand, 90-59. China continued its winning ways in heavyweight women's judo. Tong Wen won the gold.

The Kazakhstan women's handball team defeated China 29-26. Brazil, Sweden and Romania also won in handball.

In the men's cycling team sprint, Britain won the gold medal. France took the silver and Germany the bronze. In men's individual archery, Ukraine's Viktor Ruban beat Park Kyung-mo of South Korea to take home the gold medal.

NPR reporters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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